Property Management – What you don’t know will kill you (and me)

April 19th, 2017 · 4 Comments · Kids & Family

I love the real estate business and I’ve been working as a property manager for 20 years. The last few months have been a real struggle. I have traced the problem down to the plethora of new owners who want to rent out their property. They don’t want to be landlords or know anything about it, they just want the the money. So here’s some things I’ve learned.

  1. Your basement apartment tenant is not a shareholder in your 8,000 square foot house, you have 4 apartments and one meter, it’s going to cause you a world of grief to charge extra for utilities, and I know I wrote that blog post about how people who pay utilities use 30% less, without meters, with 4 different apartments, just no, it’s a terrible terrible idea. But your internet landlord friend said it was ok, and you shouldn’t even charge per square foot, you should charge per set of appliances, because that’s what uses the electricity, I’m sure random internet landlord friend will help you stalk your basement tenant when you try to collect. What could possibly go wrong?
  2. I know that space under the counter with a big hole and a drain in the side is for a dishwasher, you can’t just leave it there and that’s why I assumed that you would be putting in a dishwasher where it goes. No, you can’t leave it because your wife doesn’t even use her dishwasher, just no.
  3. How would you feel if you bought a lovely new high end Porsche or Lamborghini and the previous owner wanted to keep his luggage in the trunk? No, you can’t store your furniture and crap in the basement. I know you will have to pay for storage but newsflash, no one will agree to pay full price for an expensive sports car (or large high end home) with your junk in the trunk. So no, just no.
  4. Ok, if you hire me to rent your house as quickly as possible, and I rent it a month later (so not even that fast) you shouldn’t be pissed off and threaten to sue me because I did what you hired me to do. Your failure to plan and do what you were supposed to do, is not my problem or my fault. So no, just no.
  5. Many people should not be landlords. No, just a big fat no. Yes I know “your friends have done it and it’s no problem” I’m sure that’s a sure recipe for success. I had a friend one time who was a race car driver, that’s why I got my car impounded last week driving 160 km on the 400, what could possibly go wrong?

The landlord business is one of the most legislated business environment there is. If you’re going to invest good money into a property, I think it’s prudent to buy a book, spend a day the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board, or read some of the many brochures they have on their site specifically for the purpose of educating landlords.

Oh and for the love of all that tastes like blueberries, if you are leaving the country, no: your income property will not manage itself. What make you think that you should leave your $500,000 condo to the winds like dandelion seeds? No one is going to “put your tenant in jail because he bounced a check”. FYI we also don’t have debtor’s prison or chop off people’s hands for stealing.

Yes, you have to go to the Landlord & Tenant Board, no I don’t have a magical method to “speed everything up” except invent a time machine and properly screen your tenant for something more than a pulse, first & last in cash and a willingness to move in right away. No, I don’t “know a guy” and even if I did, it probably costs more than a paralegal and collections and may well land you in jail and worse it may land me in jail, and that documentary I watched said they didn’t have manipedis so I’m not going.

I have fallen in love with the lovely properties I’ve been renting, but I can’t help feeling like this spring’s crop of ill-prepared owners is a symptom of our frenzied real estate market and a “keep properties at all costs” attitude.  Sometimes you should just sell.

Property Fundamentals

  • Great tenants that pay the rent and take care of the property.
  • Great property maintenance by the landlord
  • Great properties
  • Bring value to the rental market
  • Don’t be crazy (Landlords & Tenants)

That about covers it.

Happy Renting !


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